Unlock!: The Elite

Room-in-a-box, Mar 2017

Rated 3 out of 5
The Elite is a free print-and-play game available as a demo of the Unlock! system. As such, you’re probably reading this either because you want to know whether it’s worth the minimal cost and effort to print off a copy, or because you’ve played The Elite and you want to know how it compares to the paid-for scenarios before buying them. (Or perhaps you just like reading escape game reviews – hey, I’m not judging.)
In brief: it’s shorter (of course) and not as stylish or interesting as the full Unlock! games, but it’s certainly worth printing off a copy; and it’s a best played as a warm-up to get the hang of the system before diving into a full-scale game.
The intro card informs you that you have an hour to complete the game. Since there are only twenty cards, compared to sixty in each of the full games, you should be skeptical of that; a more likely game duration is 15-35 minutes.
I recommend getting it printed on decent quality card, but simple printer paper would be sufficient to play. You’ll need to print double-sided in colour though. So long as you only look at the backs of the cards when cutting them, you shouldn’t have problems avoiding accidental spoilers.
This game is small but well-formed. It flows nicely and showcases the system well, with no particular friction points. The theme is a little bland, perhaps. Still, it’s a good low-commitment option for getting non-escaper friends to try out this sort of game. Just make sure you’ve got something lined up to play afterwards though, because there’s just enough game here to whet your appetite without being enough to really satisfy. 3 / 5

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